Fire safe cigarettes

Monday 24 May 1999

ASH/ Press releases/


102 CliftonStreet, London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press comment
24th May 1999 Embargo: 00:01
Action on Smoking
and Health

Fire safe cigarettes

Commenting on the article in Tobacco Control[1] claiming that cigarettes could be made with a reduced tendency to cause house fires,Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:

“There’s no excuse for allowing cigarettes to cause fires if these could beavoided by better design. The cigarette companies are unlikely to do it unless they areforced by regulators because they fear legal action and do not want to attract even moreattention to the harm caused by their product.”

“We have found over 30 patents for cigarette designs with reduced fire risks –but we don’t know of any that have been put into practice.”

“The first legal action has started in the US and if they could have preventedfires but did nothing, then they are negligent and open to claims from burnsvictims.”

According to the Home Office Fire Statistics:in the UK in 1996

  • 5,400 fires were caused by ‘smokers materials’ (second after cooking fires)
  • 187 deaths (of a total of 512) as a result of the smoking-related fires — smoking was the largest cause of fire death
  • 1,982 injuries were caused in smoking-related fires

The 1987 Kings Cross in which 31 people diedwas started by discarded smokers materials

[1] How the tobacco industry continues to keepthe home fires burning by Andrew McGuire, Tobacco Control 1999;8:67-69

Tobacco Control is a BMJ Specialist Journal.



Contact Clive Bates, ASH Director (020) 7739 5902

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